Ilinca Calugareanu despre “Chuck Norris vs Communism”

Ilinca Calugareanu despre “Chuck Norris vs Communism”


I also grew up with these films.
My first contact with the film was through Irina`s voice. So, it is a way of looking back to my childhood
and to my first experiences with the film. There is a certain degree of nostalgia,
I don`t even know if it`s the right word. If you want, it`s a kind of a lost paradise of the first experiences with the film, that we all have. I think that is why the film was well received in different countries, different locations, different cultures that know or don`t know something about the Romania of the `80s, about the regime and all those things, about the context of the story. But because we all had those first experiences with the film, we may find common topics and we may talk about the documentary. Indeed, the title was very popular. And it came pretty soon. I think it was born from a conversation I had with Irina about the most popular actors in those days and she told me about the trilogy: Chuck Norris, Van Damme and Bruce Lee. I was thinking about choosing one of them
and I thought Chuck Norris would work best as a metaphor of the way I built the film and of the impact that
those films had had on us. For me, this is a film about film and about
the power the film has. And always when we talk about films,
we enter an area of maximum subjectivity. And this is something that appealed to me in the way
I approached and built the fictionalized parts, because they are some very personal memories
and I hope I succeeded in showing this subjectivity in the way I rebuilt the memories by reenactments.
So, it`s pretty obvious: there is a lot of subjectivity when you speak about the past, especially when
you refer to some very powerful emotional experiences like these films that for many people they used to bring the coloursof the west and of a forbidden world that couldn`t be reached otherwise. Of course, you could hear about it, at a deeper level,
on the radio – Free Europe, Voice of America – , but you coudn`t see it, especially in action, in excitement, in music, in colours and so on. It`s a film about film in which people speak
passionately about films. What I also find interesting is that most of the films
are of the B category, that now – but also back then – the film critics place at the bottom shelf of the value scale. That is why I find it important that this story shows that all the films speak to everybody.
And you never know how one film specifically speaks to one viewer or the other in the audience,
telling him/ her something totally unexpected. I don`t think the makers of the films starring Chuck Norris or of the Taxi Driver ever thought that somewhere, there would be some people who would rather notice the shelves in the supermarket,
instead of the action of the film itself. This is something that I wanted to pay close attention to in postproduction and in the way I built the narrative structure of the I didn`t try to say that these tapes led to the Revolution.
By no means. That is the reason why I worked a lot at the last episode
of the film, the entering the 1989 period. For me and for those who talked to me about the films,
the tapes just opened some options to us, they showed us there were alternatives.
And it`s a different thing to go out in the street knowing you may have an alternative. That is what I tried to say.
And as I said earlier, this window towards the western world got opened. I had a very interesting discussion with one person that was interviewed, that I got really impressed by, until this moment still, who was saying that “beyond the material things I saw in the films – food, cars, houses, film stars, fashion and so on – what impressed me and affected me the most was
to see that people interacted normally. For the first time I saw people communicating with each other without being scared to speak normally in the street, without the entire paranoia, without the fear and
without the whole trauma we were living with.” Even if I was very young at that time,
I still remember the fear myself; I can say it marked a bit the way my entire being is today. So, in these films he saw how people communicated in a normal way. And thus he understood how freedom
manifests itself on a very small, basal level. And in this regard, the tapes showed alternatives, other values, other ways of acting, of existing and of course, of consuming. And they came with these alternatives that the people
could think about when they went out in the street. That is why I love how Zamfir explains this idea in the end. During the Revolution everybody was out in the streets because they knew there could be something else out there. I didn`t want to come up with a thesis and go for
explaining all the details and academical depths. I love the fact that it stirs these questions all the time
and discussions and we can think about what the power of the film could be, how it affects us,
and if a film can really lead to this kind of movements. Many interesting debates took place in South Korea,
where they wanted to screen the film because in a way or another, the same phenomenon takes place there: they send films to North Korea on memory sticks. So, I believe this film may stir
some very interesting debates. We were all very impressed, because
Sundance was the very first festival for us. We finished the postproduction three days before going there. So, from a room where we stood for three months we suddenly jumped on to the Sundance stage,
with hundreds of people. At all the screenings, especially when Irina went up the stage, the people in the audience received us with standing ovations. I was impressed because…I was afraid a bit…
we talked about a reality that people know very few things about. Not too many people know where
Romania is on the map, to start with… But many debates could be born right out of
this common thing, which is the passion for film, and the memories related to film that somehow
open the story and let the viewers go further, towards understanding what was happening here
and what the context was and so on.

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